Lawmakers To Push Statewide Wage Hike, Breweries Spread Across New Mexico

Dec 28, 2016

Lawmakers Could Push For Higher Minimum Wage – Santa Fe New Mexican

A push to increase New Mexico’s minimum wage is likely in the upcoming legislative session, with two bills already filed by lawmakers.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero of Albuquerque has filed legislation to boost the wage to $15 an hour starting in 2018. Sen. Bill Soules of Las Cruces is proposing to raise the wage to $8.45.

Lawmakers have tried to raise the hourly wage over the last two years but those efforts failed. Democrats will control the House of Representatives and the Senate when the legislature convenes in January and it’s more likely legislation will make it to Gov. Susana Martinez.

The New Mexican reports Martinez has argued for keeping the state’s minimum wage at $8 or below because neighboring Texas still follows the federal wage of $7.25.

Local governments in New Mexico have passed their own wage hikes in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Las Cruces and elsewhere.

Report: Breweries spread to all corners of New Mexico – Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

The state labor department says small breweries have spread to all corners of New Mexico.

A recent report by the Department of Workforce Solutions lists nearly four dozen breweries in the state with 25 in Albuquerque, five in Santa Fe and the rest spread from Farmington and Eagle Nest south to Las Cruces and Artesia.

The New Mexican reports that the state now ranks 12th per capita nationally for small brewers with 2.3 per 100,000 people. Vermont had the highest concentration at 7.3 per 100,000. The national average is 1.5.

New Mexico's breweries were 27th in production per capita.

The industry has an economic impact of $340 million and employment has increased from 1,000 in 2012 to 1,500 in 2015 with wages now at $8.5 million.

District Attorney Clears Officers Of Wrongdoing In ShootingThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal

The Santa Fe District Attorney's Office has cleared four officers of wrongdoing in connection to the fatal shooting of a 30-year-old suspect.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that District Attorney Jennifer Padgett on Tuesday sent a letter to State Police Chief Pete Kassetas stating that the four officers will not face charges for the August 2015 death of Marvin Maestas.

Maestas, who was wanted in connection to a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, led officers on a chase on Interstate 25 and fired a shotgun at officers before he was shot four times in the back by police.

Padgett wrote in the letter that the four officers were forced to make a "split-second decision" to protect their lives and the lives of fellow officers.

Northern New Mexico Village Battles More Water ProblemsThe Associated Press & KOB

Some residents in a northern New Mexico community are still without running water.

Questa village officials tell Albuquerque television station KOB-TV that after three weeks, they aren't able to provide enough water and that there may be a leak.

A second well was recently installed, but water pressure isn't keeping up with demand.

Those residents who have water are under a boil advisory, while others have had to rely on bottled water and water trucks.

Mayor Mark Gallegos said he's trying to find the source of the leak but acknowledged that the village's system is archaic.

The state Department of Emergency Management said capital improvement funds need to be invested in the system, but how soon the leak will be fixed and who will fix it isn't clear.

New Mexico Republican House Speaker Will Leave Legislature – The Associated Press

Republican House speaker Don Tripp says he will leave the Legislature in January as he passes his leadership post to a Democrat.

Tripp said Wednesday from his jewelry store in Socorro that he will hand over the ceremonial gavel to the next House speaker on the first day of the legislative session in January and retire from his seat at the same time.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and local county commissioners are responsible for choosing a successor until the next election.

The 70-year-old lawmaker has served in the Legislature since 1999. Tripp stepped into the top House leadership slot in 2015 after Republicans won control of the chamber for the first time in 60 years.

In November, Democrats reclaimed control of the House and extended their majority in the Senate.

Archbishop Using 'Social Gospel' To Fight New Mexico PovertyAssociated Press

Advocates say Santa Fe Archbishop John C. Wester is forcing New Mexico lawmakers to reconsider various proposals related to fighting poverty in one of the nation's poorest states.

Less than two years into his tenure, Wester has been outspoken on issues ranging from early childhood education and immigration to income inequality.

He recently called a press conference with other faith leaders to denounce a tax proposal that critics say would unfairly raise grocery prices for low-income families.

He hosted an immigration forum earlier this year and criticized the Obama administration for not giving due process to detained migrant children from Central America. He also spoke out against an effort to reinstate New Mexico's death penalty.

Wester says his activism is rooted in Scripture and the call to defend the poor.

Hobbs Takes Step Toward Outfitting Officers With Cameras Hobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

Police officers in one southeastern New Mexico community are one step closer to wearing body cameras.

The Hobbs City Commission recently approved a request for proposals for body cameras and in-car cameras for the police department. The move followed a staff recommendation that a contract be awarded to Georgia-based public safety company Utility Associates, Inc.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports the contract is not final yet but is expected to be worth more than $325,000 the first year and $213,000 in subsequent years.

Police Chief Chris McCall says he believes the technology provides a platform that the department can build on for years to come. The system allows for live streaming and real-time communication for missing person alerts.

The police department first began evaluating camera systems in 2012.

Officials: Family, College Students Rescued From Gila Forest Associated Press

A family of four and a group of college students were separately rescued on Christmas after becoming trapped in a canyon near Silver City that was quickly flooding.

Customs and Border Protection says its Air and Marine Operations used helicopters to rescue the campers and hikers after local authorities were unable to because of high winds and sleet.

The agencies haven't released the ages of the rescued people but said they included college students who were camping and a family of hour that was hiking in the Gila National Forest.

Both groups were screened and were found to be in good health.

New Mexico Lawmaker Wants Moratorium On New Charter Schools Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A lawmaker wants to put a moratorium on opening new charter schools in New Mexico for at least two and a half years so the state can evaluate the schools and find ways to ensure they're delivering high-quality education.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Democratic Rep. Christine Trujillo of Albuquerque has introduced a bill that would halt approval of new charter applications between June 2017 and January 2020.

Many charter schools in New Mexico also have been under scrutiny in the past year for their financial management practices.

Trujillo says the state has been moving so fast on this front that it doesn't have enough time to oversee how they are functioning.

Charter school advocates oppose her bill.

New Mexico Unveils New Anti-DWI Ads Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has unveiled New Mexico's latest round of television ads aimed at curbing drunken driving.

The governor said during a news conference in Albuquerque on Tuesday that law enforcement will be out in full force looking for suspected drunken drivers during the New Year's holiday and through the month of January.

The new ads provide a firsthand perspective of what it's like to be pulled over for driving drunk. The ads will run through Jan. 9.

The governor also released a list of the top 10 most wanted DWI fugitives. It includes the names and photographs of those who have more than a few DWI offenses on their records.

New Mexico Teen Injured In Car Surfing Incident Eastern New Mexico News, Associated Press

A Clovis High School honor student remains hospitalized a week after a car-surfing incident in the school parking lot left her with a severe head injury.

Veronica Revell says her daughter is unconscious and in intensive care at a Lubbock, Texas, hospital but she's optimistic about the chances of recovery for 14-year-old Dakota.

The incident happened Dec. 21, the last day of school before the Christmas break.

Revell tells The Eastern New Mexico News that she wants students in Clovis and elsewhere to stop car surfing. She hopes Dakota's plight will serve as a warning of the dangers of such activities.

Revell says doctors have told her to expect months or even a year of rehabilitation depending on her daughter's condition when she wakes up.